Vicky Andrews reckons the footie faves’ steakhouse is still on a winning streak

IT starts with the ambiance. You are where you eat. So says the Macello Meat House website. It’s Friday night and youngsters outside the offie are screeching like horny cats and smacking each other in the face. The Great Wall Chinese may be looking a little quiet, but the good people of Childwall triangle have piled into their local steakhouse hoping for a hearty meal and a sporting celeb spot.  

Executive chef Bayram Yuce and manager Okan Bulut have turned a suburban shopping strand into a hotspot for the likes of Firmino, Fabinho, Lovren, Barkley, Mignolet, Mane and Alisson. Some of those names don’t mean anything to me; I’m a casual footie fan and was drawn to Macello by their Instagram photos of hot smoking beef steaks rather than beefcakes in tracksuits grinning to camera. You might say there isn’t much grey cell difference between those things, but that would be very, very mean.

The charcoal cooking is a bit of a circus but it’s not all smoke and mirrors

Arriving late for our reservation, thanks to an Uber driver who couldn’t find his way out of Lark Lane, we may have just lost our table. We’re asked to wait at the bar, but there isn’t really one, so we hover awkwardly in front of a fridge stocked with an athletic array of meat, adorned with garlic bulbs, fake plants and a big shiny knife. It looks like Hannibal Lecter has made a good start on his submission for next year’s Southport Flower Show.

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Red meat is the name of the game at Macello

With 35 or so covers, it doesn’t take much to make this place full. Inside is as steamy as a post-match bathtub and diners scooch past each other to the screech of wooden chair legs dragging across the floor. Everybody is celebrating something: a driving test, an anniversary, a birthday, the weekend. I know it’s rude to eavesdrop but you can’t really help it when you’re packed in tighter than a bunch of fifties in Firmino’s wallet.

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Packing in the punters

To my left, Mr X is boring his wife and Mr and Mrs Y with steak cooking times. To my right, a lady is asking for her fillet mignon to be very well done, but doesn’t understand what her server means by ‘butterflying’. A red-faced man is asking why the sauce had garlic in it. His dinner date reveals that her best friend has become a lesbian. Perhaps that’s why she’s celebrating.  

Exotic-sounding starters include New Delhi chicken, Persian souffle, Aegean goat cheese and mozzarella stuffed beef. We’re not going for broke tonight though and pin down a member of staff to get the lowdown on main courses and charcoal specials. It’s a bit confusing if you’re a rookie here, but once we’re seated our friendly host brings over a couple of raw T-bone steaks, explains the pricing per kilogram and total cost for each. We do the math and point at the slightly smaller one to share (£56).

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Steaks are cooked first in the kitchen then at your table

Seated in the midst of sizzling grill skills from this evening’s head chef, I’m grateful to be near the front door which is flung open to release the smoke each time the cooking station is wheeled out for another flaming display. Voices and glasses are raised across smouldering boards of sirloins, leaf kebabs, lamb steaks, burgers and meatballs. And loads and loads of potatoes, spelled with more variety than they are cooked. The menu offers patato, patatoes, pataotes, patatotes, and finally potatoes, but they will all arrive in a creamy brown sauce. I think I’ll order some chips please (£2.50).

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The complimentary nibbles were a pleasant surprise

Having skipped the appetisers to crack straight into a salubrious Spanish Malbec don enrico Mendoza Valley (£24.50), I’m eternally grateful when some complimentary nibbles land on the table. Perhaps we were just trying to block out our neighbours, but the combination of warm flatbread, nutty houmous and creamy tzatziki was impressive enough to raise eyebrows and a 10-minute debate on ingredients.

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T-bone to share? Don't mind if we do

The charcoal cooking is a bit of a circus but it’s not all smoke and mirrors. Our T-bone is brought out whole on the bone and partially cooked, then sliced, pan-fried and seasoned with rock salt. With succulent sirloin on one side and meltingly tender fillet on the other, it really is the best of both worlds. Peppercorn sauce (£2.50) is bold and fragrant but not overpowering and earthy grilled asparagus (£3.50) is drizzled with a zesty vinaigrette dressing that captures the Mediterranean sun.  

A small complaint though; I’d asked for the T-bone to be cooked as chef thinks best, but I think that the kitchen erred on the side of its cautious customers, serving the steak medium and a little over for me. I might not know anything about football, but I do know a good piece of meat. And for that, Macello is in a league of its own.  

Macello Meat House, 16 Childwall Abbey Road, L16 0JN  

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2019 09 16 Macello Receipt Va

The scores:

All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidential and completely independent of any commercial relationship. Venues are rated against the best examples of their type: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: Netflix and chill, 10-11: if you’re passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: cooked by God him/herself.

  • Food 7/10

    Dips 7, T-bone steak 8, skin-on fries 7, creamy potatoes 6, asparagus 7

  • Service 4/5

    Good fun and very helpful

  • Atmosphere 3/5

    Lively and casual